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York Leading The Way On The Living Wage


11:37am 4th November 2013
(Updated 12:24pm 4th November 2013)

York is leading the way on the Living Wage and is the first city outside of London with such a concentration of businesses signing up to be Living Wage employers and committing to make York a Living Wage city according to the Director of the Living Wage Foundation, Rhys Moore.

To mark the start of Living Wage Week 2013 (3-9 November) the Living Wage Foundation has today announced the next wave of UK organisations that have been officially accredited as Living Wage employers in the past year.

Amongst them are City of York Council, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Housing Trust, York CVS and York CAB. Accreditation means that more than 700 employees of these organisations know that they will continue to receive the current Living Wage rate and their employers have a commitment to future increases.

Cllr James Alexander, leader of City of York Council said: “I’m delighted that our commitment to pay the Living Wage is now officially recognised making York the first unitary council in Yorkshire to become a Living Wage employer. We can now embark on our next commitment which is to make York a Living Wage City.”

Rhys Moore, Director of the Living Wage Foundation said: “York is the first city outside London to have such a concentration of Living Wage employers with a joint commitment to tackling the problems of low pay across the city. I look forward to working with them and seeing many more York employers signing up to the Living Wage City brand. We want it to be recognised as a ‘Fairtrade’ mark of excellence among York employers.”

Shaun Rafferty Director of Central Services at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust said “We want lasting change for people and places in poverty, communities where everyone can thrive and a more equal society. We think it’s vital that we practice what we preach as an employer. Our commitment to paying the living wage makes complete sense to us, not just because it’s the right thing to do but because we also believe that staff who are valued through receiving the living wage are more engaged and productive. Our own experience has shown a reduction in staff turnover from 25 percent to 10 percent in the last year”.

The council, JRF, York CVS and York CAB have joined together with existing Living Wage employer Aviva, to form a Living Wage City coalition. The coalition is committed to working together to promote awareness of the Living Wage and its benefits.

Angela Darlington, Chief Risk Officer at Aviva said, “Paying the Living Wage is one way to lift people out of low pay. We believe it’s the right thing to do – but it’s not an easy choice for employers. Between us we have a range of information and experience of implementing the Living Wage in our own organisations and we want to share this with other employers in the city who are interested in ways to support their staff in these tough economic times. We know what the challenges are and can help other employers to look at how to overcome them”.

George Vickers, Chief Executive of York CAB said: “Low pay is a real issue in York.  We know that more than a quarter of jobs in the city are in low paid sectors leaving thousands of working families struggling to make ends meet. We see them in the bureau suffering stress as they face mounting debts. The Living Wage could make a real difference.”

The campaign to make York a Living Wage City was one the recommendations made by the York Fairness Commission in their report that was released in September 2012.

The coalition will be producing a Guide for Employers and making contact with interested organisations to offer support. Their aim is to increase the number of employers in York who pay the Living Wage as part of the city’s anti -poverty programme.

Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Rachel Reeves MP, said:

“It’s fantastic to see Labour-led York gain accreditation as a Living Wage employer. Making this commitment, when budgets and services are under such pressure, offers practical help to people who are struggling with the cost of living crisis at the same time as strengthening local economies and communities. Across the country, Labour in local government is making difficult decisions to support those who work hard but struggle to make ends meet. This approach is in stark contrast to the Tory-led government, who have shown whose side they’re on by prioritising tax cuts for millionaires”.

Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hilary Benn MP, said:

“Congratulations to City of York Council on becoming a Living Wage employer. It shows how Labour is leading the way in offering practical help in the face of the cost of living crisis”.

For more information on the Living Wage and the benefits that it can bring go to http://www.livingwage.org.uk/

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